To cut pollution, China needs "1,000 nuclear reactors"
Beijing (AsiaNews) - China will need about 1,000 nuclear reactors, 500,000 wind turbines or 50,000 solar farms if it is to keep the pledge it made at the recent APEC summit to reduce carbon emissions.
Chinese President Xi Jinping agreement last week with President Barack Obama commits China to cap carbon emissions by 2030 and turn to renewable sources for 20 per cent of its energy, a makeover that comes with a price tag of US$ 2 trillion, Bloomberg reported.
At present, China is already the world's largest producer of alternative power. Its pledge would require either 67 times more nuclear energy than the country is forecast to have at the end of 2014, 30 times more solar power or 9 times more wind power.
"China is in the midst of a period of transition, and that calls for a revolution in energy production and consumption, which will to a large extent depend on new energy," said Liang Zhipeng, deputy director of the new energy and renewable energy department under the National Energy Administration. "Our environment is facing pressure and we must develop clean energy."
The issue does not only concern the international community, which Beijing has repeatedly deceived with promises. The country's emerging middle class is also becoming increasingly outspoken about living in sooty cities or drinking polluted water.
In fact, some 40,000 environment-related protests are estimated to take place every year.
In Hangzhou, in the eastern part of the country, rioters overturned cars and set fire to police vehicles in May because of plans to build a waste incinerator near a residential neighbourhood.
Smog in Beijing and Shanghai has made the government "realise that it has to take measures to rein in pollution, otherwise it will cause social discontent," said Li Shuo, a climate policy researcher at Greenpeace East Asia. "Health is of immediate concern to everyone."